Why does Macbeth kill King Duncan?

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Macbeth's desire to usurp the throne increases steadily after the three witches tell him that he will be king. Lady Macbeth forcefully encourages Macbeth to murder Duncan, and eventually he gives over to her appeal and his own desire for power. The question posed to Macbeth by the witches' prophecy is whether to let the prophecy come true on its own or to take fate into his own hands, which he does.

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Laurine Herzog eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Macbeth first thinks about killing King Duncan after the the three witches prophesize that he will one day be king himself. After he hears this, he asks himself why he contemplates "that suggestion / Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair / And make my seated heart knock at my ribs, / Against the use of nature?" The "suggestion" he is tempted by is the idea that he should kill Duncan, which, as he says, is a sinful thought to have, and unnatural, or "Against the use of nature." He subsequently says in act 1, scene 3, that, "If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me, Without my stir." In...

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nicole8923 | Student

Macbeth kills Duncan becaide he tells his wife of the witches Prophecy and is convinced by lady macbeth that he must kill him in order to ptobe his manhood.

meenuya | Student

well, macbeth had a great oppurtunity to become a king but just didn't  have enough patience.he made his own decisions as duncan was in his way

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bhawanipur | Student

Nobody dislikes power, pelf and fame.Seeds of these aspirations enters into our physic and it grow bigger and bigger. When it sees the ripe time, acts for fruit. So was the case with Macbeth. There existed the seeds of the above aspirations in his heart. As soon as the witches predicted, those grew up and finally longed intensely for fruit. Such a person loses his conscience to judge what is right and wrong and finally his desires lead him to the wrong path and undertake any action for fulfilling his desires. Macbeth also became a victim of his evil desire and dreamt to grab the throne of Scotland by killing King Daucan. His wife Lady Macbeth worked as instigator like putting oil in a burning fire. In fine, circumstances compelled Macbeth to kill Duncan.


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lit24 | Student

In ActI Sc3 the three witches prophecy that Macbeth,a general in King Duncan's army, will become the future king of Scotland,"All hail Macbeth,thou shalt be king hereafter!"  Macbeth is indeed delighted to hear this prophecy and from this moment onwards becomes ambitious and decides to become the king of Scotland. However, he knows fully well that he can never become the King of Scotland legally, because Duncan has two sons who are his legal and rightful heirs. So he decides to murder Duncan, and his two sons because that is the only way by which he can become the King of Scotland.

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